DeLauro helps revive family leave bill

February 8, 2017

WASHINGTON — For the third time, Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., have introduced legislation to enact paid family leave.

The measure, known as the Family and Medical Insurance Leave Act, would create a national fund to provide workers with 66 percent wage-replacement for 12 weeks per year in cases of birth, adoption, recovery from serious illness or caring for an ill relative.

The program would be funded by contributions from both employers and employees, but the average employee would pay $1.50 a week, according to the proposal.

Gillibrand introduced the bill in the Senate with support from other Democratic senators, including Connecticut Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy. She spoke on a press call with DeLauro and several paid family leave advocates.

DeLauro recounted her often-told story of dealing with ovarian cancer while working as chief of staff to former Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn. At the time of her diagnosis in 1986, she was able to obtain leave from Dodd’s office.

DeLauro said she didn’t want paid family leave to be a benefit for just a few fortunate congressional staffers. It “should be a fundamental right of all Americans,” she said.

Josh Elliott, who owns a business and represents Hamden in the state assembly, said businesses must help their workers because “they are the ones who make it all possible.”

Elliott also said states that already have family paid leave have shown it does not affect the competitive edge of a small business.

“As a working mom,” Gillibrand said she understands how the absence of paid leave presents families “with an awful choice that no American family should have to make. They either quit their job and lose their income, or be by their family member’s side.’’

It remains to be seen whether DeLauro and Gillibrand will get any traction with the bill this year given that both Capitol Hill and the White House are in Republican hands.

But President Donald Trump talked about maternity paid leave during his campaign, and his daughter, Ivanka, has also spoken in support of the program.

Gillibrand said that paid family leave is “not a Democrat or Republican issue .... it affects people in all states.’’


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